The park is now open

The blog has been offline for a while. I forgot to renew it, and when it went offline I wasn’t in a hurry to fix it. But now it’s back up, and I’m happy it is.

I’ve already updated the photo blog – I walked around downtown when Obama was here, and took some pictures of the people and the demonstrations. I think the people of Oslo’s message can be summarized in “earn it”, as stated in the picture above.

Yes. Earn it. You have a long way to go to earn that prize, Obama, with two wars on your hands. On a related note, I was thoroughly unimpressed with your performance at the climate conference in Copenhagen. China and the US were apparently the main reasons why the conference’s end result was a very lame document, with hardly any new binding goals.

Earn it. Take some of your brilliant speeches and transform them into action. Earn the trust you have recieved from the western civilization.

The Moscow Subway

The subway of Moscow is unlike any other subway in the world. Almost every station has a different look, and the differences are not subtle – and neither is the architecture. Where else can you visit subway stations that looks like ballrooms, or space ships from a 1960’s movie? If you know me it should be no surprise that I took a lot of pictures of them when I was there last year, and now I’ve finally uploaded them. Have  a look.

Worldbuilding with Unity

As I’ve heard a lot of good things about the game engine Unity, I decided to try it out today. I’ve had it installed before, but back then I didn’t spend more than a few moments with it.

Unity has proven to be a very intuitive tool for creating environments and, according to a colleague of mine, it remains a powerful and intuitive framework if used to created full games. I’m sure it has some serious limitations and problems, but so far I’ve only encountered minor issues.

Following are a few screenshots I took while creating a small, tropical island.

island1

island2

island3

island4

Through the noise

Here are the latest sounds I’ve identified through the noise of the tubes.

  • John August, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, writes about his craft in an interesting and entertaining way. To an industry outsider like me, it’s fascinating to get some real insight into how that business works.
  • Josh Friedman, executive producer of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Cronicles, writes in a personal and funny way about surviving the cancellation of your show.
  • Another entry about movie making, and now we’re talking about a real classic. The legends about the production of the movie Apocalypse Now is legion, and here we are given an inside look how the chaos and insanity of the movie colored the shooting of it. Or was it the other way around?
  • Trond-Ivar Hansen, a collegue of mine, wrote a report from the conference The Philosophy of Computer Games 2009, which we both attended. It’s in norwegian though, so check it out if you know the language (or have a dictionary and more patience than wits)

New batch of photos

It’s been a while, but I’ve uploaded a batch of photos, taken during last year’s vacation, to my photo blog. I’m really quite happy with some of them, so go on and have a look. Oh, and when I’ve got time I’ll publish some more photos from that summer. I still have a backlog off pictures to sort through and process.

PvP Tetris

TetrisWhile bored one day, I came to think of Tetris. Tetris is a singleplayer game – I’m sure there are multiplayer versions of it, but I’ve never played one. I was considering how one could make a PvP (competitive) version of the game for Xbox Live. The first thing was to identify what makes Tetris singleplayer, and eventual problems in changing that.

  • There is only one player in a Tetris game.
  • You compete not against an enemy, but yourself.
  • You do so by handling a complex task during increasing time pressure.
  • Performance is measured through points, based on how long the player “survived” (measured in the amount of rows removed).

It would be simple to have some form of splitscreen gameplay where each player would play his own Tetris board and just compete about the score, but that wouldn’t be very different from playing on your own and then comparing points. What we want is to engage the other player somehow. These are the ideas I came up with.

  • Keep the splitscreen idea so that both player’s could see each others boards, but turn the view of the enemy’s board upside down to increase the difficulty of analyzing his progress and state.
  • Keep it as a game of survival, but instead of trying to reach the next difficulty level the goal would be to outlive the enemy.
  • Let the players engage with each other through sabotage. Each player could replace the enemy’s Tetris piece with his own (while recieving a random new one himself), triggering a cooldown hindering him from repeating this for another 30 seconds. Different strategies could emerge from this.
    • Whenever the enemy gets a piece he needs, replace it.
    • Wait until the enemy is just about to place his piece before you replace it, giving him no choice to place your piece there instead.
    • Get a new piece when you are not happy with your own.
  • Count not points from the number of rows removed (which would make this into a game of speed, even allowing for the possibility to win the game through points even though you reached the top and failed). Instead, count points in the number of free unblocked rows, at the end of the game.

I think this could be a fairly fun game of Tetris. I’d try it out.